From Anderson. Paak To Usher & Janelle Monae, Inside Super Bowl LVIII’s Weekend Parties (2024)

The Super Bowl is, hands down, one of the biggest nights in entertainment of the year. It’s a Sunday in February when the timeline comes together to watch pop culture history unfold live and to celebrate, yell, judge, analyze every moment, and ask important questions like was that Alicia Keys note that bad? Why didn’t Usher take his shirt off earlier? And BEYONCÉ DID WHAT? Sure, some people care about the actual football (how ‘bout them Chiefs!?), while others are just there for the snacks and the Usher concert. I fall squarely into both camps. I grew up watching football, but I was also there when Usher first told us where he was at 7 o'clock on the dot, so naturally, he means a lot to me. The main event (Usher and KC’s epic win) was the draw, of course, but the biggest event in entertainment would be nothing without some good ol’ fashioned hype. The Super Bowl may be one Sunday in February, but the festivities last all weekend long — and when you’re in Vegas? It’s a weeklong marathon of buildup (aka parties) to the big game.


So when Verizon asked me to tag along to their four-day activation (they took over Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club inside the LINQ Promenade) dubbed Verizon Live at Super Bowl LVIII, I jumped at the chance to check out their parties throughout the weekend in partnership with Netflix, Max and Apple Music. Plus, I knew Verizon had something BIG in the works with Beyoncé so my delusion convinced me she might show up to one of their events (spoiler alert: she didn’t, but she gave us something even better!). If you’ve ever wondered what Super Bowl parties are really like, I’ve got you covered below.

Thursday: Netflix & Actually Chill

I landed in Vegas to cheerleaders and a full-on DJ spinning at the airport so I knew the next four days were going to be a TIME. First up, I hit up Verizon’s opening event Netflix Presents: @NetflixGeeked Kickoff where the streamer previewed some of their most anticipated titles, including Avatar: The Last Airbender (On Netflix February 22), 3 Body Problem (On Netflix March 21), and Rebel Moon - Part 2: The Scargiver (On Netflix April 19). Director Zack Snyder and actors Sofia Boutella and Kiawentiio were just some of the talent on hand to share clips and talk about their new projects.

As exciting as the previews were, I was running on no sleep and my last two brain cells after a long travel day so I decided to call it a night early and head home right after the Netflix event. My hotel, The Hilton Resorts World, was the unofficial homebase of the Kansas City friends and family (there may have been a Mama Kelce sighting) so it was actually pretty lit when I headed home, but all I wanted to do was chill and curl in bed with my comfort watch, the OG Creed on Netflix.


Friday: There’s Magic In The Future

That title is a tease of some of the talent I got to see on Friday. Any guesses? Before the Friday night parties, I woke up bright and early and headed to the Verizon Live space for the Consumer Connections Press Conference. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg broke down the findings from Verizon’s first-ever Consumer Connections report, including some of the trends behind the big NFL moments and games that captured fans’ attention (like how Bills Mafia is by far the league’s most engaged fanbase), and Vestberg explained how Verizon’s network helps keep the players, fans, and coaches locked in and connected throughout the games. You’re probably not thinking of press conferences with telecom CEOs when you think of Super Bowl parties but this event was really informative and fun! Two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning was on hand to lend his expertise. The panel was hosted by NFL analyst, senior writer, and ESPN podcast host Mina Kimes.

After that, I headed to the Four Seasons Las Vegas for the Women Raise the Game Super Bowl Brunch, which honored, “the women in sports who form the backbone of the players, organizations, and the journalists who tell their stories” according to the event’s organizers. Honorees included actress and philanthropist Holly Robinson-Pete, NFL SVP of Global Brand & Consumer Marketing, Marissa Solis, and Sammy Schuster, the mother and manager of NFL Wide Receiver Juju Smith (who had us all in tears with her heartfelt speech), along with special guest DJ Jermaine Dupri.


Then I did a quick change, met up with my friend Tim, an editor at Rolling Stone, and headed back to the Verizon Live space for an exclusive event featuring the critically acclaimed Max series Hacks. For Refinery29, I interviewed Ava herself Hannah Einbinder (who stars alongside Jean Smart as Deborah in the show about an aging comedia who teams up with a young writer as both of their careers are stalling) and then we listened in as Einbinder and co-creator and actor Paul W. Downs took fans behind the scenes of the show, sharing clips and teasing what’s to come in Season 3, premiering in the spring (Black Hacks fans, I know you’re out there — I can’t be the only one!). Einbinder, wearing a gorgeous gray suit, teased that Season 3 will include a one-year time jump and Hanna and Ava have, indeed, parted ways. “Of course they have to get back together for the show to be the show so they do, and chaos ensues,” she teased.

After the Hacks event, we headed to the recently opened Fontainebleau Las Vegas, which turned its rooftop into a pop-up invite only, absolutely no photos allowed club. Magic Johnson hosted a private party on Friday and we spotted Leonardo DiCaprio trying to sneak his way in undetected.

Finally, we ended the night at The h.wood Group and Uncommon Entertainment’s weekend pop-up party space, a custom-built 45,000 sq ft megastructure in partnership with REVOLVE. Future was one of the headliners and he was joined by Travis Scott for a surprise DJ set. David Guetta wrapped up the night with “I Got a Feeling” as was seen dancing to his own hit beside the booth.


Saturday: Run Me My Playlist

Remember when I said I actually cared about the football part of this weekend? Well, I didn’t realize how much I cared until Verizon took us on an exclusive tour of Allegiant Stadium on Saturday afternoon to check out some of the enhancements Verizon has made to the space. I got to see the almost-empty field and the standing in the stadium witnessing the calm before the chaos nearly brought me to tears. Turns out I really care about football! It was also cool to see behind the curtain of how Verizon makes sure their network is strong and stable enough to support the coach-to-coach communications and fan activity during the games. My Verizon network was STRONG throughout my whole trip, whether I was at a party or cheering on Patrick Mahomes.

Photo: Jeff Schear/Getty Images/Verizon.

After the tour (and a shopping break), we went to “Verizon Presents: Run the Playlist Live,” a collab with Apple Music. NFL players from across the league joined host and YouTuber Deestroying and Grammy winner Anderson.Paak (going by his alter ego DJ Pee .Wee) on stage to share stories of their time on the field and talk about how music impacts their game — from pump-up songs to slow jams to set the competitive mood. “I really love R&B so if that’s my mood that day. That’s what I’ll listen to in my headphones before the game just to be more calm going into the game,” NY Jets wide receiver Allen Lazard told Unbothered on the red carpet of the event. “In the game, there is so much emotion and it’s so high energy and exhausting that I like to just be relaxed going into the game and then hit that switch when the kickoff happens and be that person then go back to my more calm, collected self.”


NFL legends Sauce Gardner, Ed Reed, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Reggie Wayne discussed their favorite music and curated a unique playlist (including Lil Wayne and Earth, Wind & Fire) for Super Bowl LVIII with the help of DJ Pee .Wee. The “Run the Playlist” marked the last event at Verizon’s four-day Super Bowl activation and they ended it off with my favorite performance of the trip: GRAMMY-nominee Tobe Nwigwe, flanked by background singers all dressed in mint green (with the words “A Momint in Vegas” emblazoned behind them) belted out some of his more beautiful songs. The performances and panels were all in support of Verizon’s multiple bundle options (you get Netflix and Max together for just $10 a month, or add Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for just $20 per month). Anderson.Paak aka DJ Pee .Wee may just be my new fave DJ. In between spinning, he told a hilarious story about performing with Dr. Dre and Snoop at the halftime show in 2022. “It was great!” Paak started the story. “I was just really nervous. We were walking on the field and I was just like don’t drop your sticks, then I put my in-ears in and I could hear Snoop and Dre talking to each other and I hear Snoop go, ‘hey cuz, is it la di da di da or da di da di da?” The crowd roared with laughter. “The rest is history,” Paak quipped.

Getty images for verizon

As hard as it was to tear ourselves away from that banger of a party, we once again ended the night at The h.wood Group’s party pop-up, and this time, it was the soothing sounds of Jack Harlow’s inescapable hit “Lovin On Me” that had me dancing until my feet hurt and I called it a night.


At nine-years-old... I had a vision about this moment in here tonight and it came to fruition.

usher at his Rémy Martin super bowl afterparty

Sunday: Caught Up

Is it too dramatic to say that Sunday was the best day of my life? Don’t tell my husband that going to the Super Bowl just overtook our wedding day (I’m kidding! Or am I?). Decked out in my best football fit, complete with a red-and-white Dorian Who varsity jacket I'm obsessed with, we started out by hopping a bus with the Verizon team to the official tailgate party at the stadium. The space was decked out with tents, bars, lawn games, and performances. As we were grabbing Bloody Marys and trying all the various food stands we could, a casual Gwen Stefani performance started. I know most tailgates don’t have Stefani belting out “Don’t Speak” to a crowd of people swaying and crying (just me?) but I don’t think I can ever go back to beers in the back of a pickup truck after this.

From one blonde pop star to another… before I get to the game, we have to acknowledge the Swift-sized elephant in the room. No matter who you are, you’ve been inundated with conversations about Taylor Swift and her budding romance with Kansas City tight end, Travis Kelce. Even when the two weren’t present (they did hit up the official Chiefs afterparty Sunday night), they were being talked about. But despite what the Brads and Chads may think, most of the NFL players I spoke to saw Swift’s presence in the league this year — and the new fanbase she brought with her — as a good thing. “It’s not something [the other players and I] talk about, but we’ve seen it a lot this season,” Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift told me at the Run The Playlist event. “I feel like it’s good for the sport. It brings a lot of attention, a lot of different viewers to the sport. So overall, it was good. [I have heard from] a lot of fans that have been to their first game this season. A lot of people are now interested in the game of football and it’s fun to hear.”


NY Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson agreed. “Any time we can bring more eyes to the game and a new fanbase that usually wouldn’t be as interested in football is good,” he said, with a caveat. “It’s crazy how many times they cut to her [but] when we played against the Chiefs and it was like the second game she had gone to in New York and it ended up being one of the most-watched games of the season. That’s the type of effect she can have and the NFL would be dumb not to take advantage, but it is crazy how much they be cutting to her though!” he laughed.

Before Sunday’s game, there were lots of conversations, and predictions, about Swift’s appearance and whether she would show up (or be shown) during Usher’s halftime set. No disrespect, but I’m so glad neither happened. In the stadium, they cut to her twice throughout the game and it wasn’t clear which box she was in (with her celeb friends Ice Spice, Lana Del Ray, and Blake Lively) in relation to our seats. Truly, the energy in the stadium was all about USHER BABY (oh yeah, and football). Usher solidified his spot as the King of R&B with a high-energy performance that showed why he’s had a decades-long career and why he continues to remain relevant. At Usher’s post-performance party hosted by The House of Creed and Rémy Martin, he said he manifested this moment.

“This has been all about belief – that belief started at nine-years-old for me and I had a vision about this moment in here tonight and it came to fruition,” Usher said at his official said wearing a white fur coat, flanked by camera flashes and his rumored new wife, Jenn Goicoechea. “This is just the beginning [and] a victory lap for 100 sold-out shows in Las Vegas, and now we gon’ take it on tour. Let’s get it!” Usher said as the intro for his hit “Bad Girl” kicked in right on cue. At the other end of the party, Janelle Monae and Victoria Monét were spotted hanging out in a booth. Rappers Wale and Fabolous, record executive L.A. Reid, and content creator Monet McMichael were just some of the other notable people in attendance. As Goicoechea and Usher made their way through the crowd, their friends and family were seen hugging and congratulating the couple who stunned in matching white ensembles.

It's clear that nobody had a better Super Bowl Sunday than Usher, but I'd say I came pretty close.

From Anderson. Paak To Usher & Janelle Monae, Inside Super Bowl LVIII’s Weekend Parties (2024)
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